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Sociology (Latin: socius, "companion"; -ology, "the study of", Greek λόγος, lógos, "word", "knowledge")

is the study of human societies.[1] It is a social science (with which it is informally synonymous) that uses
various methods of empirical investigation[2] and critical analysis[3] to develop and refine a body of
knowledge on human social activity, often with the goal of applying such knowledge to the pursuit of
social welfare. Subject matter ranges from the micro level of agency and interaction to the macro level of
systems and social structures.[4]
Sociology is a broad discipline in terms of both methodology and subject matter. Its traditional focuses
have included social stratification (i.e. class relations), religion, secularization, modernity, culture and
deviance, and its approaches have included both qualitative and quantitative research techniques. As
much of what humans do fits under the category of social structure and agency, sociology has gradually
expanded its focus to further subjects, such as medical, military and penal organizations, the internet, and
even the role of social activity in the development of scientific knowledge. The range of social scientific
methods has also been broadly expanded. The linguistic and cultural turns of the mid-20th century led to
increasingly interpretative, hermeneutic, and "postmodern" approaches to the study of society.
Conversely, recent decades have seen the rise of new mathematically rigorous approaches, such as social
network analysis.

Auguste Comte
Sociological reasoning predates the origin of the term. Social analysis has origins in the common stock of
Western knowledge and philosophy, and has been carried out from at least as early as the time of Plato.
There is evidence of early sociology in medieval Islam. It may be said that the first sociologist was Ibn
Khaldun, a 14th century Arab scholar from North Africa, whose Muqaddimah was the first work to
advance social-scientific theories of social cohesion and social conflict.[5][6][7][8][9]
The word "sociologie" was first coined in 1780 by the French essayist Emmanuel Joseph Sieyès (1748–
1836) in an unpublished manuscript.[10] It was later established by Auguste Comte (1798–1857) in 1838.
Comte had earlier used the term "social physics", but that had subsequently been appropriated by
others, most notably the Belgian statistician Adolphe Quetelet. Comte endeavoured to unify history,
psychology and economics through the scientific understanding of the social realm. Writing shortly after
the malaise of the French Revolution, he proposed that social ills could be remedied through sociological
positivism, an epistemological approach outlined in The Course in Positive Philosophy [1830–1842] and
A General View of Positivism (1844). Comte believed a positivist stage would mark the final era, after
conjectural theological and metaphysical phases, in the progression of human understanding.[